Quick lunchbox ideas for kids

Add some colour to kids’ lunchboxes with these nutritious options. You can mix and match their favourites, and they’re all ready in under 15 minutes.

Lunchbox recipes

Need a little inspiration when it comes to packing school lunchboxes? Our fun and easy recipes will brighten up your repertoire and add a little more colour to your child's day. From nut-free chocolate dip to homemade 'sweets' and green butterfly salad, we have plenty of ideas to choose from...

Lunchbox one

Green butterfly salad

Serves 2
Takes 15 minutes

  • 100g farfalle
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh pesto
  • handful pine nuts
  • Parmesan for grating over

1. Cook the farfalle following pack instructions. Meanwhile, finely shred the spinach. Herb scissors make quick work of this if you have some.

2. Drain and stir through the pesto. Leave to cool then stir in the pine nuts and spinach and grate over a little Parmesan. Pack in a little pot with a lid.


Fresh fruit

Pack a banana, apple or satsuma in the lunchbox.

Nut-free chocolate dip
choc dip

Serves 2-4
Takes 10 minutes

  • 100g sunflower seeds
  • 100g milk chocolate drops
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • mini bread sticks

1. Whizz the sunflower seeds in a food processor to form a smooth paste. They will go crumbly first but just keep blending them; you may need to stop the processor and scrape down the mix with a palette knife then keep blending. The paste isn’t a promising colour but don’t panic - you’re replacing the standard hazelnuts in this chocolate spread with seeds to avoid packing nuts in your child’s lunchbox and once the chocolate goes in, it takes on the gorgeous colour - and flavour - of the chocolate.

2. Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate drops, coconut oil, salt and vanilla in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

3. Add the chocolate mix to the seed paste and whizz again to combine. Decant into a jar with a palette knife and store at room temperature. Serve some in a lunchbox in a little pot with the mini breadsticks for dipping.

Lunchbox two 

Grated carrot salad

Serves 2
Takes 5 minutes

  • 2 medium carrots
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 handful chives or flat-leaf parsley (optional) 
  • salt and pepper
  • a drizzle of olive oil

1. Grate the carrots into a bowl. Add the pumpkin seeds and snip in the chives or flat-leaf parsley with kitchen scissors.

2. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil then mix.


Ch*ap wrap (Ch*icken & A*vocado P*esto) 

Makes 2
Takes 5 minutes 

  • 1 avocado
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g Parmesan, plus extra for grating
  • 2 tortilla wraps
  • handful pine nuts
  • handful shredded cooked chicken (shop-bought or leftover from a roast)

1. Whizz the avocado, lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan together in a blender.

2. Spread each wrap with the pesto, sprinkle with pine nuts and chicken and grate over a little extra Parmesan.

3. Roll up, cut in half and wrap in paper.
 

Dried fruit pick & mix

Pack dried fruit in a little paper bag or, if you have time, you can make these easy pure fruit sweeties with dried apricots. You can also try them with dried figs or pineapple.

Makes 1 jar
Takes 15 minutes

  • greaseproof paper
  • cooking oil spray
  • 150g dried apricots

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 3.

2. Cut two pieces of greaseproof paper to the size of a baking sheet and spray each with cooking oil spray. Place one oil side up on the sheet.

3. Whizz the apricots in a food processor until they form a ball.

4. Decant the blended apricot onto the lined sheet and place the second sheet, oil-side down on top. Use a rolling pin to flatten down the apricot to about the thickness of a pound coin and then peel off the top layer of paper and discard.

5. Firm up in the oven for 10 minutes then remove and while still warm cut out either long strips to make roll-ups, or sweetie shapes with a little cutter. Cut little squares or strips from any offcuts. Leave to cool on the sheet then store in a screw-top jar or tin.

Lunchbox three


Rainbow salad

Serves 2
Takes 5 minutes

  • 1 small red apple
  • quarter yellow pepper
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • a drizzle of olive oil

1. Slice the apple and yellow pepper into matchsticks – this looks nice with a crinkle-cut knife if you have one. Decant into a bowl.

2. Shred the spinach and add to the bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil then mix.

Rainbow sarnie

Serves 2
Takes 5 minutes

  • 4 slices bread
  • houmous
  • ¼ red pepper, sliced
  • ¼ yellow pepper, sliced
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach

1. Spread 2 slices of bread with houmous. Layer up with red then yellow pepper then spinach and top with a second slice of bread.

Cheat's granola yogurt pot

Makes 1 jar granola
Takes 10 minutes

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g oats
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • plain yogurt

1. Melt the coconut oil, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a medium pan over a gentle heat.

2. Pour in the oats, seeds and honey and stir well to combine. Continue to move around the pan until evenly browned, about 5 minutes.

3. Leave to cool then layer up a little granola with spoonfuls of yogurt in a screw-top pot. The remaining granola will keep in a jar for a week.

Want to add a little treat?

These simple cookies won't keep you in the kitchen for long and can be stashed away for lunchboxes or a rainy day...

Gluten-free coconut cookies

Makes 12
Takes 15 minutes + cooling

  • 1 egg 
  • 60ml runny honey 
  • 80g desiccated coconut 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. 

2. Grease a 12-hole fairy cake tin. 

3. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the honey with a fork. Stir in the coconut and combine well. 

4. Divide equal teaspoonfuls of the mixture between your tin then bake until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Leave to cool and firm up in the tin, then run a knife or teaspoon gently around the edges to pop out. 

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